Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Killer Opening Songs (Song 44 by The Gloaming)

Ireland has featured prominently in 2016 on account of the centenary of the Easter Rising, the revolt that laid the grounds for, ultimately, Irish independence from Great Britain.

For Killer Opening Songs Ireland has another meaning: that of a fascinating musical canon. Whether traditional or modern, the repertoire from the Emerald Isle is one to which our regular section always defaults. Tonight it is the turn of a band that, although with only two albums under its belt, has already made its mark.

The Gloaming is a supergroup made up of five successful musicians who first came together in 2011 with the sole purpose of revolutionising Irish music. They have done this by mixing the orthodox with the experimental. The Killer Opening Song of their self-titled debut album is an outstanding example of craftsmanship. On Song 44, singer Iarla Ó Lionáird’s voice lifts and floats as Thomas Bartlett’s piano is kept to almost a whisper. At the same time Martin Hayes’ fiddle lets out a slow, sweet and melodic wail. It sounds like a plaintive note, one that is supported by Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh on hardanger d’amore and Dennis Cahill on guitar. The spectral-sounding track is sung in Gaelic and has an 800-year love story behind it. A man keeps seeing the woman he loves in his dreams. Midway through the song the tempo changes and becomes more upbeat with the familiar Irish jig making its first appearance only for the melody to return to its sombre tone at the end.

Those looking just for foot-tapping music, however, will be disappointed. The Gloaming is more interested in how far they can push the boundaries of Irish music, not how to conform to already-established melodic patterns. The evidence for this is in the rest of the album. Allistrum’s March is a haunting fiddle-driven instrumental. Necklace of Wrens features words by poet Michael Hartnett. Opening Set is perhaps the standout track in the album. A sixteen-minute-long piece, brooding at times, explosive at others, this is the sort of composition that becomes a classic from the word go.

It is always heartening to see musicians, especially those plying their trade in traditional forms, using their left-of-field, creative power to the maximum. The Gloaming is a good example of this and the Killer Opening Song is one again the living proof.

© 2016

Next Post: “Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On”, to be published on Saturday 30th April at 6pm (GMT)


  1. I haven't heard this song before, but I do find it compelling.

  2. "plying their trade in traditional forms, using their left-of-field, creative power to the maximum."

    Wonderful ideas!

  3. Una buena pieza cantada con toda su fuerza.
    Un saludo.

  4. They sure have a nice flow, what they said though, I don't know lol

  5. The music is so beautiful, I have never heard anything like it before! I don't understand the language, but his voice is lovely too. Love it!


  6. I'm not one for jigs, but this completely changes the whole vibe about Irish music. Thank you so much, it's absolutely compelling, it sweeps you away. Loved it!

  7. Agh--It is almost 1 a.m. here and I am staying with someone so can't make noise! I love Irish-type music even if you say it's different. I will listen soon. Thanks. k.

  8. Great to see people experimenting with established forms. No doubt they'll upset some people - but this is now music develops. It's a living art form and shouldn't be stuck in old ways all the time. (And I still love a good jig from time to time!)

  9. I went on a journey of memories, thanks to you. Iris music has a mystique all it's own. I used to go to a weekly gathering of Irish musicians and loved it all - foot tapping or otherwise.

  10. I have always loved Irish music, and this is really great!
    Thank you so much for sharing...I will be humming this for the rest of the day! :)

  11. I would not have identified their eery sound as Irish until the fiddles kicked in later on. It is very original. In NYC for Passover last weekend we saw a bunch of older men wearing banners in Irish flag colors in front of a Catholic church with a lot of security. It must have been part of the Easter Uprising commemoration.

  12. Thank you all for your comment. Do yourselves a favour and click on the links provided. Opening Set, especially, is one of the reason why I bought the two albums. :-)

    Greetings from London.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...